Day At The Track

First pacer invited to inaugural Group 1

02:13 PM 25 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Expensive Ego
Expensive Ego

Owner Jason Grice understands just how lucky he is on two fronts.

Firstly, the Sydney-based Grice owns the first horse to be invited for the inaugural Group 1 $250,000 The Rising Sun – the Belinda McCarthy-trained Expensive Ego.

The four-year-old confirmed his ticket to the richest harness race in the southern hemisphere for three and four-year-old pacers last Saturday night after claiming the Group 1 $200,000 Chariots of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

While Grice, Expensive Ego and McCarthy are all based in southern states, they all have distinct links to the Sunshine State with the star pacer being a QBRED and was also purchased at the APG Brisbane Yearling sales.

And, secondly on the luck front, Grice understands just how special his success with Expensive Ego has been, winning 12 races for $305, 218 in prize money from just 16 starts.

“I had one horse before him, who was not very good, and now I have got him,” Grice explained.

“I know how hard it is for people to get good horses, so I understand how lucky I am here.

“It is the same with the dogs, you can buy, buy, buy and have no luck – but I went in this other direction now to get the horses.

“I have been very lucky here; people might buy horses and dogs for 30 years and never get one like Expensive Ego – I see how lucky I have been.”

Grice first got into the racing industry through his grandparents, who owned greyhounds with him, before recently making the switch to harness racing.

A family friend sold Grice Expensive Ego and he has not looked back yet.

Even before the invitation was confirmed for Expensive Ego, his Camden-based driver, Luke McCarthy, was already looking to Queensland.

“We are always a part of the winter carnival no matter what anyway,” McCarthy said.

“Hopefully we have a big team of horses to come up for the whole carnival.

“Expensive Ego will be set for that race and hopefully we can have multiple runners throughout the entire carnival.”

The exciting new race, The Rising Sun, will now debut on July 10 later this year as part of the Constellations Carnival after it was postponed in 2020 with limited feature racing occurring due to COVID-19.

Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club have the option to issue invites to 3YO’s (up to two) or 4YO’s (up to two) for the upcoming The Rising Sun. 

With Expensive Ego the first to be invited for four-year-olds, there is a chance more will be handed out following the NSW Derby and the New Zealand Great Northern Derby, both to be held early next month.

Grice thinks The Rising Sun is an excellent initiative for the harness racing industry.

“It is a great concept, it is making the sport go forward, it is a great race,” he said.

“Once it has been run for a couple of years and people see how great it can be, it will really take off.

“We actually had our eyes on the race last year and then things obviously changed with COVID and he wouldn’t have made it anyway as he hurt himself.

“It is amazing how this has come around, him being the first one invited, it is just great.”

Racing Queensland Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick said it was exciting to be able to hand out the opening invitation for the first ever The Rising Sun later this year.

“He is a great fit for the race following his dominant win in the Chariots of Fire on Saturday night,” Brick said.

“Expensive Ego is a QBRED and was purchased at the APG Brisbane Yearling sale.

“We are looking forward to seeing him at Albion Park later this year.”

Driven by Luke McCarthy, Expensive Ego won by almost three metres in the Chariots of Fire and now looks towards the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle on the first Saturday of March.

“I am over the moon with him, he went awesome the other night,” Grice said.

“We thought it was going to be tough from where he drew but he keeps surprising us.

“It is unbelievable, it really was.”

Following the Miracle Mile, Expensive Ego is likely to head to Melbourne before looking north to Brisbane for the first ever Group 1 $250,000 The Rising Sun.

McCarthy’s Expensive Ego was last in Queensland in 2019.

Last year, RQ unveiled the Rising Sun as its newest Group 1 feature.

The full schedule for the 2021 Queensland harness racing Constellations carnival is set to be released in the coming weeks.


Jordan Gerrans

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